The 1990-91 Recession in Historical Perspective
Nearly a decade has passed since the last U.S. recession ended, and memories of prior recessionary experiences may now have grown dim. The objective of this article is twofold: to provide a concise review of post-World War II recessions, with an eye to identifying their most distinctive features as well as their common elements; and to investigate the extent to which knowledge of a recessionary period provides insight into the subsequent expansion.
The article's conclusions are necessarily tentative as the date the 1990-91 recession ended had not been officially designated at the time of its writing. Even though this recession was characterized by several distinctive and still puzzling features, this is not uncommon for recessions. This article finds that, contrary to common assertion, the severity of a recession provides little guidance to the course of the subsequent expansion.